Pastors' “Out and About” Bring Connection, Community

“We talk about most everything. It’s a chance to visit on neutral ground,” said Rev. Donny Haywood of First UMC Archer City

Twice a year, Rev. Marcus Womack and dozens of youth and adults from Plymouth Park UMC descend on the local Whataburger in Irving for a truly Texan meal.

At Argyle UMC, Rev. Dale Tampke and Rev. Jennifer Stevens host “Ponder With the Pastors” every Monday at a local coffee shop.

Rev. Dyan Dietz announces every Sunday at Trinity UMC in Denton where their "Out and About" lunch will be the following Tuesday.

White Rock UMC gathers weekly through Lent for “Feast and Fellowship” at local East Dallas restaurants, and Rev. Kerry Smith was pleasantly surprised that up to 30 people have attended in recent weeks.

At Buckingham UMC, the monthly “Dining for Dollars” outing supports locally owned businesses, brings a portion of the sales back into the church and helps Rev. Jeffrey Pehl connect with his community.

“This is a laity-led effort that began after COVID as a way to bring church members together for social events,” Pehl said. “We have 15 to 25 people per outing every month. It's been wonderful for me, as a recently appointed pastor, to meet with congregants in a social setting and to get to know other patrons and tell them about Buckingham UMC.”

FUMC Archer City lunch

For Rev. Donny Haywood, “Out and About With Pastor Donny” has been a staple of every appointment in his ministry journey.

Pehl has enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people in Garland, as well as get to know his congregants better through these dinners. He even connected with one couple who was having trouble finding a place to host their wedding, and he assured them Buckingham UMC would be happy to help. 

For Rev. Donny Haywood, “Out and About With Pastor Donny” has been a staple of every appointment in his ministry journey. He began Out and About during his time in Nocona and has continued in his current role at First UMC Archer City. He announces each week on Facebook and at church where lunch will be that week. 

“I continued this in Archer City, hoping to be more visible to the community so I could meet more people. In a small town, it’s a great tool to begin meeting the community,” he said. 

In Archer City, anywhere from three to 10 church members join Haywood for lunch at local spots like Murn’s Cafe or Dairy Queen. The restaurants have come to expect them and some even reserve tables for Haywood and his flock. 

“My hope is that the community will see us as a busy church and invested in the community,” Haywood emphasized. “And as we become more familiar, we hope to attract new lunch goers and church visitors.”

Market Street lunch with Wayne

Market Street UMC Rev. Wayne Walters began holding gatherings in Mabank over the past year. 

At Market Street UMC, Rev. Wayne Walters drew inspiration from Haywood and began "Out and About" gatherings in Mabank over the past year. 

Said Walters: “I always liked it when Donny Haywood did it. It is his idea. The Market Street congregation wanted additional time together and this was a great way to make that goal.”

For Market Street UMC, the fruits of this time together are evident. These outings strengthen relationships, create community, foster invitations from the community and create pathways into Christian life and discipleship.  

Haywood noted the value of a casual setting to connect with his community. “We advertise to just open conversation. We talk about most everything. It’s a chance to visit with the preacher on neutral ground.” 

Mabank citizens have noticed that the church is visible and present in the community. Walters noted, “Even the mayor noticed and commented about how awesome it is that we go out together.” 

Haywood hopes Out and About will continue to show Archer City that the church is invested in the community. Our pastors getting out and about in their community is a sign of the church alive and well. 

Our hope is that people who see us will see God working through us, even in socially fun activities,” said Pehl. “In turn, we hope this leads to conversations and invitations to connect to our church. United Methodists are known for their gift of cooking. We also love to eat other people's food!”

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2024